A petition distributed to the student body at a rally Tuesday on the Quad intended to draw support for a vote on the creation of an Asian American studies minor fell 1,000 signatures short of what its organizers were hoping for.
The rally, organized by the Asian and Asian American Studies Program Student Committee, was planned to bring awareness to the University Senate vote on approving an Asian American studies minor. USen will vote Wednesday. The rally comprised of a few cardboard signs behind about six students petitioning with clipboards. The group was looking for about 1,600 signatures and received about 600.
Ran Li, a junior biology major and participant in the rally, said he was satisfied and he didn’t have high expectations for the event, especially considering the small number of people he was working with.
“We only had three people last year, so just the fact that there are six people with us right here, we’re pretty good,” Li said.
Thirteen years ago, 10 SU students pressed charges for discrimination after they were denied from a Denny’s restaurant and beaten in the parking lot by a group of white males, according to an April 2008 article in The Daily Orange. The case was dismissed, but it sparked the push for an Asian American studies program.
“We want a fair piece of what we think is ours,”
said Andrea Wangsanata, a junior public relations and political science major.
“I think that every other ethnic group has their own program, and we don’t and we’re the largest minority group on campus. It’s just not something that we wanted all of a sudden. It’s been a struggle.”
Li said even though the rally didn’t result in the amount of signatures the group was looking for, he thought it was important to make the cause visible on campus.
Wangsanata said the rally was also intended to show USen that support for the program is not limited to students of Asian descent, as students from a multitude of racial backgrounds signed the petition.
“What we really want to do is show the University Senate that there is large student support across racial boundaries,”
“We just want them to recognize that this is a program that not just Asians want, but has full campus support.”
Students signing the petition expressed their surprise that Asian American studies was not already a minor at SU, especially because the group makes up about 10 percent of the student body, according to the College Board.
Scott Lyons, an English and Native American studies professor who spoke at the rally, said it doesn’t make sense that the program had not yet been created.
“In terms of Asian-Americans in particular, it does surprise me,”
“It just seems natural that that’s a group that’s been asking for their own program and some autonomy and have not received it, and I’m not sure why that is.”
Members of the USen committee reviewing the program could not be reached for comment.
The minor, like other minors on campus, would require 18 credits, including 12 at the 300 or higher level. The program would be housed in the College of Arts and Sciences with staff support from the staff for Interdisciplinary Programs. Current sociology professor Yingyi Ma will serve as interim director until a permanent director is appointed. Though designed to cover Asian heritage, the program will mostly focus on the history of Asians in the United States.
Thirteen years of waiting may be coming to a close for the students behind the program, but they said they are not overly excited about the minor’s approval. The program is long overdue, and hiring faculty to teach the program will be the real key to its success, Li and Wangsanata said.
“It’s a start,”
“But we’ve been fighting since 1997 for just a start.”
Source Lorne Fultonberg